Sunday, February 25, 2007

February 23, 1998

February 23, 1998 is a day etched forever in my mother-heart. On February 22 everything was fine and on February 23, everything changed.

Kaetlyn was 7. She has always been the hardest to put to bed. I attribute that to potty training too close to the time of switching from crib to bed.... anyways, she has always got up 2 or 3 or 4 times after being put to bed. And she was doing it again. Up in the night. Has to go pee. Thirsty. On and on. "Go to bed, Kaetlyn!" "Stop getting up" "Do this before you go to bed!" But on and on it went. And as the nights went on, it got more and more frequent. Up to go pee. Up to get a drink. Until it was happening at 15 minute intervals.

Finally that warning light in my mother-brain went off. I knew what it was. My daughter had diabetes. That night I stole into her room and smelled her breath. It had that smell - that acetate smell that diabetics get as their body consumes their muscle tissue as it starves to death. I hardly slept that night.

I knew what to do after living with her father who has diabetes for 7 years. I was waiting on my Dr's doorstep on February 23 for a lab requisition. We went and had her blood taken. My desperate mind making up tons of excuses. "It could be a kidney infection. Infections make your breath smell funny... I'm just making this up... always a drama with me... everything is fine..." She played hookey from school and we hung out, bought old valentine's chocolate at Zellers and ate it.

She had a pottery class at the Art Centre. While she was there, the Dr's office called. Those dreaded words. She has diabetes. Take her to the hospital at once. There was absolutely no doubt. It was an absolute. We picked her up from her art class and her and I spent the night at the hospital. She spent more than a week there as they brought her blood sugars under control and figured out her insulin levels.

After that first night in the hospital, I crazily went to work where I was facilitating an employment class. Duh! Like I was any good to them! Finally after work, I went home. I can remember sitting on the bathroom floor and crying and crying and crying. I just kept thinking of my perfect baby girl. And all the things I had done to make sure she didn't get diabetes. I wept for the loss. I wept for what she was going to have to deal with - a disease we have yet to find a cure for.

That was 8 years ago. We've learned alot about diabetes in the meantime. I have struggled and she has struggled. Her teenage years have been especially difficult. And one of the very unfair things is that even in Canada where we are so fortunate to have medical services available to everyone, there are very real limits. Like we have to buy her diabetic supplies - things that she needs to live. This comes out of our family's pocket. Of course there is Pharmacare but that only kicks in after you have spent a certain amount. There have been times when I have had to choose between food or insulin or testing strips. I don't think that is right. I think diabetic supplies ought to be free. If I didn't buy them for her, she would die. And then there is the matter of treatment. The only kind of treatment that is covered by pharmacare is the most basic. Not the best. So appliances like an insulin pump that allow her to have much better control over her diabetes and the best chance for avoiding complications like blindness, kidney failure, neuropathy and early death, this I have to pay for myself. They cost $7000 and they last 2 - 5 years. The alternative to pumps is injections through needles. People with diabetes have to continually rotate their injection spots as scar tissue builds up. And for teen agers, finding a good insulin mix is very difficult as their adjusting hormones mean that their bodies metabolize insulin much quicker. And long acting insulins are undependable.

With my mother-heart finagling, I managed to get her an insulin pump for free - technically a loaner from a most awesome factory rep. He is gone and the insulin pump is on its very last legs. Probably it is toast already. We haven't been able to get it serviced because it was a loaner and the rep was transferred before it needed fixing. She needs a new pump. We need to raise $7000. We have a goal to have it well under way by April 26 when her next appointment is at the diabetes clinic. She will have to get off this pump and back onto injections.

Any ideas on ways to raise money? All the sales of my hats ( will be going to our pump fund. Kaetlyn may have some bags that she has sewn available there soon, too. And I will be updating with some spring cotton hats soon as well. We are planning on approaching some charity groups for help but we will still have to raise a significant amount ourself, even if they help us. So.... ideas? We'd love to hear some!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Thinking of You

Even though I spent most of my younger childhood with these characters... who tormented me, had farting contests and broke my toys (and my nose)... they were great brothers, nonetheless. Yet, I prayed for sisters. Alot.

Eventually when I was 7 and 9 years old, I got these. I love them! They are great sisters. Here we are in 1977. Love that polyester, eh?! In fact, in the end, I have more sisters than brothers but this isn't how it felt to me growing up.

I have been thinking of one sister in particular. It was her birthday February 11 but I couldn't call her because I don't have the number where she is right now. She is 28. My third sister.

I remember when she was born. I was 13 and a half and in grade 8. I was embarrassed to tell my friends at school that my parents had named her Martha but that name has grown on me. Even when she was very small, there was a connection between us. Oddly when she was 4 and I was 18, we understood each other. I taught her how to skip. I comforted her in the night when she had nightmares. We had Sunday naps together.

By the time she was this big (6) I had already left home. I used to have my youngest siblings over on a regular basis to stay over night and visit me. We had some great times. Here is Martha with sister number 4 (Sarah) and my step-daughter, Sarah Kleyh.

Anyways, Martha, sister of my heart, my beauty-girl. I'm thinking of you. I hope you had a good birthday. Looking forward to when I can hug you in person.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

For the Beating of M y Northern Heart

Too bad I didn't have a camera. Although how I felt at the sight could have never been captured by the lens. Just the lens of my heart.

Where I grew up, seeing moose was a common occurrence. Many times I glimpsed this ungainly and surprisingly swift creatures of the wood, run alongside the road or on frozen rivers. The Okanagan is supposed to be the natural habitat of moose as well. But in the almost 13 years I have lived here, I have seen only 1 who came trotting through the pasture near my house and frightened the horse out of its wits. It seemed to be moving so slowly but on those long legs it was out of sight in what seemed like seconds.

Today while driving home from Kelowna as I passed Wood Lake, I spotted 4 moose on the frozen lake. My heart leapt to see them. I pulled over to feast my eyes and pretty soon other motorists were, too and there was a line up along the opposite shore of the frozen lake as we all watched in wonder. I sat there, my northern heart full, so grateful to have a glimpse at these great creatures. For their part, at first they were walking slowing, single file on the ice. Then they seemed to notice all the people and they just stood there looking at all of us looking at them.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Monday on the Hill

So Monday was our next ski/board day up at Silver Star. So Sunday night I went up the hill to pick Dean up as he could come back with us the next morning. I came early so I got to be there for an hour of the recording of a song and got to see the bed tracks laid for the very last song on the CD. Or the last one recorded, anyways. I loved doing that. There was such great energy in the room and I was so proud of Dean and so happy for him. I think this CD is going to be awesome. The power of creativity was almost palpable up there.

So the next morning, Rhiannon wakes up sick. Too sick to go skiing. As she loves skiing as much as I do, I knew she must really be sick! I think she really needed to spend some time with her dad. So we drove up the hill and delivered Drew to his boarding lesson and Rhiannon, Dean and I went over the the house where the band has been living and recording. Rhiannon kept calling it "Daddy's place" which Dean kept correcting. "My place is with you...." It was sweet!

Rhiannon and I spent the morning there at the house. She cuddled with Daddy and watched a movie together and wrestled with him and swam in the hot tub. I cleaned the disgustingly dirty kitchen. It was only 1 days worth of mess but it looked like 3 days worth of mess! I also made some bread and some peanut brittle for them. Rhiannon and I came down the hill around 2pm and Drew got a ride home later with some friends.

Here are some pictures of the house:

This is actually the master bedroom at the very top of the house. This is where the producer, Randy Cantor lived and worked. Doesn't look much like a bedroom, does it? Looks more like a studio....

And this? This is the living room... you can see the tv, right? Amidst all those cords and drums...?

And this is my favourite guitarist. See that look on his face? When I see that look, I know that he sees me for a minute through all the epic music he is making.

He came home yesterday afternoon. That part of the recording is done.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Saturday Hike

On Saturday afternoon it was between going to the jazz club or going hiking. We went hiking in Kal Lake Park - me and one of my favourite hiking companions. And wow! Walking through that slush gave my calves a good work out!

The view was beautiful, as usual. Here are some of our shots.

But my heart breaks as I walk along the path I have walked for so many years and I see trees that were strong and healthy only 2 years ago now looking like this.

When Andrew was only 5 and we came hiking here with his friend, his friend's training wheel kept falling off. We left it at the base of this tree as we finished our hike down to Cosen's Bay. This tree won't be there much longer.

And it isn't just one tree here or there - it is whole groves of Ponderosa Pines. I could have several shots here of different groves that all look like this. What is Kal Park going to look like in a couple of years? What is our province going to look like in a couple of years?

I was raised in this province - mostly up north amongst dense forests of pine and spruce. I hear it is unbelievable to be up there and see the decimation of the forests.

What have we done? And why does it take us so long to wake up? We need drastic measures now! We know what to do, we just have to do it. The government needs to find a back bone and quit catering to big business. Have you watched 'The Corporation' and "Inconvenient Truth" and "Who Killed the Electric Car"? Watch them and start thinking about what you can do right now. We are the world.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Single Parenting and the Art of Recording

My dear husband, the love of my life, the talented Dean Gordon-Smith has been gone since January 29. He's not that far away. In fact he is only up at Silver Star. However, I have seen him only once for less than 12 hours since then. He has been deeply immersed in recording his 3rd CD with Redfish. And I miss him.

This is an awesome opportunity for him. Through serendipity a well known and respected producer originally from Philadelphia but living in Nashville heard a recording of Redfish. And was interested in working with them. He brought with him an engineer from Boston who has worked exclusively with Aerosmith for the last several years. Eddie gathered investors, brought the two men up here and rented a house up on Silver Star where they have been sequestered ever since. I don't know if I have ever seen my husband so excited. Anytime I talk to him he has so much to say. He is having the musical experience of his life unlike any he has ever had before and he is no stranger to the recording studio long before Redfish ever existed. This producer has got several bands signed with record labels and he is going to be going to bat for Redfish with this recording.

I am glad for my husband and I pray that he does get the recognition that he deserves. He is as talented as any of the great rock guitarists and I know that his musician's soul yearns for people to hear his music. This could be the break he has worked toward his whole life (well, since he was old enough to understand). Although that might mean I am going to have to get very used to doing the single parent thing....

But being a single parent is wearing on me just a little. Boy he does a lot of housework... I hate to admit that I don't really notice until he isn't here and the laundry piles up and I wake up in the morning and the kitchen is still messy...(it makes me realize I complain WAY too much!). You know what I miss the most? (Besides him, of course) It is the uninterrupted times. My journal is a series of short broken up entries.... Sometimes I feel like I don't get enough time to finish my thoughts... I have had some, it is true, but I would like MORE! Speaking of which, Rhiannon has just gone outside to play, Drew is at a friend's house and Kaetlyn is having a nap. Sure is quiet around here... I just might be having some time to finish some thoughts!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

More About Spending My Weight

I realized when I was thinking about my eating habits that the times that I was eating compulsively were mostly times when I was not taking action that I needed to. This could be for a number of reasons. Like I was feeling overwhelmed because I had too many conflicting things that I needed to do... homeschool my kids.... mother..... clean house.... Inner World School.... window cleaning.... hats.... too many priorities. Or I was afraid of what I had to do or dreading it for some reason.

So for me, getting up and writing in my journal first thing clarifies where I am at emotionally instead of swallowing it all down (it always comes up again anyways - the feelings, not the food). And making lists for me takes it out of my head where it swirls around and around and I forget things that need to be done and worry that I will forget.... and so on. I write it all down. And I dedicate 2 hours a day to each area (and I include myself on the list). I never get all the things done on all the lists but that is okay. I get done what I can. And the next day sometimes I just work on the same list or I add things to the list or I start a fresh one. It is amazing what I can get done with a little consistent effort. And now I don't worry and I make a plan for dealing with the things I am dreading. And so I am not swallowing down my feelings. Which leaves me free to follow my own little weight loss program which is a combination of weightwatchers, "8 Minutes in the Morning" and "Eat Right for Your Blood Type". And I am enjoying it. And it is so much easier to do when I have dealt with my feelings and worries first. I guess the biggest stumbling block to good eating habits for me is emotional eating...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Spending my Weight

When I told a wise friend that I had decided I would like to lose some weight to make it a little easier on my knee, she advised me to not lose weight but to spend it. She said to look at it as not giving something up but that I am acquiring something with it.

So I have been spending my weight on discipline - my word for 2007. Discipline. And so far I have spent 6 lbs. I would like to spend at least 11 more. I have welcomed discipline into my life. Every morning when I get up, I have been writing in my journal. It is amazing just how much that clears the energy for my day - to get the stuff out of my head, to process my thoughts, to figure out how I want to spend my time that day. It truly is the most powerful tool I know for self-actualization. I make my lists for the different areas of my life and responsibilities that I want to get accomplished that day. Sometimes my lists last me a few days. They help to focus on the many things I have going on. I have categories for Sparkle Window Cleaning, mothering, self, homeschooling, housecleaning, hats and counselling. Then I do my "8 Minutes in the Morning for a Flat Belly" exercises. Not that I am terribly concerned about a flat belly but I like the exercises and my abdomen has been significantly weakened by 4 pregnancies.... And then my day is off to a great start. My lists really free my brain. Its amazing. Instead of trying to hold everything I have to get done in my head, I can relax and think of inspiring thoughts and check my list when I need to.

So I am in my third week of living this way. This level of discipline isn't one that I would want to keep forever in my life but right now it is really working for me - helping me to get the things done that I want to without feeling overwhelmed with all that I have on my plate right now.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Violin Recital

Last night was an informal violin recital for one of Rhiannon's teachers. Rhiannon played 'Song of the Wind' from the Suzuki book 1 that she is going to play for the music festival in Salmon Arm. Here is my photo essay on last night's violin recital:

A shy beginning

Getting set up


Happy with herself

And then of course, it wouldn't be complete without pictures of playing under the chairs while the older kids play their pieces... that's the funnest part... well... almost!

I took a digital video of her piece so you can see Rhiannon play her piece on youtube here.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Learning at Home Week in Review

Well, this week passed by without too much notice. We had violin lessons and piano lessons and we practised and Rhiannon and I are now reading Farmer Boy - the third book in the "Little House" series. Andrew didn't go to the garage because he went to a friend's 14th birthday party instead. My highlight of this last week's learning is my own. I have been reading a book that has had a profound influence on my friend. So here is my essay on "The Continuum Concept" by Jean Liedloff.

What was compelling to me about this book was her description of the Yequanna people of South America. It was compelling to read about these people who live so close to their instincts and how they intuitively raise their children to be part of their society and culture so effortlessly - the trust they had in the 'rightness' of their children and in each other. It was affirming to me of how I have trusted my own instincts - explained why that felt right even though others would disagree with how I have handled my children at certain times.

What really made me think was her description of how they teach children to work. They don't really teach them at all but include them from babyhood in the meaningful work of the village. This was brought into even sharper focus and Rhiannon and I are reading "Farmer Boy" about Almanzo Wilder's childhood. At nine years old he is an integral part of his family's farm operation. He knows how to work hard and he is indisputably indispensable. And I pondered this age of 'convenience' and wondered if teenage rebellion - the acts of vandalism, shop lifting, illicit drug use, graffiti - that has come to be an accepted part of teenage culture is really just their anger at their impotence, their uselessness in society. 2 year olds in a Yequanna village are doing more meaningful work than most teenagers. In most families of my children's friends, nothing is accepted of them when it comes to family work. Nothing. And I have spoken to many parents who feel this is how childhood should be - free from responsibility. But this is not our nature. And how much happier my own children are when we work together on our household tasks - when we discuss and decide what needs to be done and labour together. And I see how I need to do this more - and to include Rhiannon in the daily tasks. And as I have been doing this, she LOVES it!

I am grateful to have been raised by a mother who was influenced by the emerging child development research of the 60's and raised me with many of these principles (she took me to the Dr because I never cried...). And to consequently have my own instincts more intact for my children.

My psychological analysis of the book: The theory that Jean Liedloff expounds here is a 'tabula rasa' (blank slate) theory. That means that children start life as 'blank slates' and are a result of their environments. She is also heavily influenced by Freudian psychology. Although she refutes Freud's conclusions, she develops a similar theory in that she believes that the entire rest of life is a result of our earliest experiences. I think it is a bit more complex than that and that there are many factors that influence growing babies and children and that we each bring with us our own soul and will have our own way of reacting to the similar situations.

I enjoyed her description of the Yequanna the most and found many implications there for my own parenting. The message of how babies need to be held and trusted and their cues attended to; how children need to be meaningfully included in our lives; that parents need to have their own meaningful lives; that we need to be connected in community - all these things I found deeply affirming and thought provoking. However, I found her interpretations of her observations to be a bit didactic and I did not agree with all of her conclusions.

So there you have it - my learning for the week!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Making of a Hat

I love this Japanese wool. It is a bit itchy and I have to line the hats but the colours and texture are so beautiful! Making this hat took quite awhile because I ran out of the wool about 1 inch short of finishing and the yarn store flooded and didn't open for 2 weeks.... but here it is, finally - my photo essay on the making of a hat!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Disgusted with Disney

Two recent movie rentals have me disgusted with Disney. A couple of weeks ago, Rhiannon rented Fox and the Hound 2 and this week she rented Bambi 2. Both Fox and the Hound and Bambi the originals are family favourites. The characters are sweet, the storyline makes a point. The Fox and the Hound is about prejudice, friendship and loyalty. Bambi makes a point about the lives of animals and hunting and about friendships, loss and growing up.

But the sequel to both of these movies is sadly lacking. In Bambi there is rudeness, bullying, exclusion, unkindness. It is a far cry from "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all". There is almost no parental involvement in the second movie rather than the reassuring guidance of parents in the first one. It is very much like the school yard we expect children to survive on today. How does Disney miss it so badly that those who love Bambi would find this second movie appealing. Rhiannon was hoping for a story about Bambi as a father - taking up where the last movie left off. We were disappointed. It appears to be nothing but a blatant money grab by Disney. I myself am also tired of the constant message that children get through the media that rudeness and unkindness are cool, are accepted, are just part of life. Perhaps it is all the more jarring to us after more than 2 years without cable television in our lives. I don't miss it.

With Fox and the Hound 2, again instead of picking up where the last movie left and sharing some stories about the grown up Todd and Copper and how the managed their friendship across the bounds of hound and fox in their adult lives or the lives of their pups, we get a shallow story of the fair with none of the redeeming features of the first movie. Despite an all star cast with Reba MacIntyre and other country singers doing the music, which is great, the plot is sickening. A story of betrayal and greed.

I think Disney has gone a fatal step beyond the bastardized version of great fairytales like Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and the Little Mermaid in which most of the deep meaning of the original, age old tales is lost, replaced with a shallow, unsatisfying portrayal of girl and womanhood. That was bad enough. This is far worse. There is nothing to redeem it. Hopefully people will vote with their pocketbooks. These movies are not worth seeing.